Fantasy Fiction

I was in the bookstore yesterday browsing the aisle, which is one of my favorite ways to kill an hour or two. I found myself wandering through the shelves of new releases in the Young Adult section. I noticed that all the new books in this section were in the fantasy genre or mystical in theme. I know it is October and Halloween stuff is put to the forefront of all the retail displays, I get it.  It made me wonder why were these books such big sellers and what draws the young adults, and older adults for that matter, to this type of fiction.

Don’t get me wrong, I love a good fantasy read. Give me a dragon, a damsel in distress, a good-looking vampire and a shining knight  on a handsome white steed any day. These books were not that kind of fantasy. I saw covers with vampires, sorcery, ghosts,werewolves and scantily clad women warriors. I am sure these books, at least some of them are good fiction. That does not answer the question as to why these books draw so many readers.

Take a look at Harry Potter  and the Twilight series, for instance, both have produced millions in sales. There must be  reason that people like to read these stories. If we look at the content it is clear to see why these stories are best sellers. The themes and plots draw people away from the mundane normal lives that they are living. It takes the reader to place that can only exist in fantasy fiction. No where in normal lives can someone cast spells, kiss vampires, and run with wolves.  However, truth can be stranger than fiction.

I have read a book where the leading charismatic protagonist cast demons in to pigs, calmed a ferocious storm with a word, raised the dead, made blind people see and turned water into wine. All that in the first three chapters of part two. The first part of this book is even more fantastical with wild whirlwinds, floods, blood-red suns, giants, spirits that walk through fires unburned, walls that fall at the sound of trumpets, talking serpents, poison apples, a super strong man with powerful hair, demons, plagues, bones that regenerate flesh, and battles between good and evil forces. The last chapter of the book has dragons and creatures that even the best horror or fiction writer on the market cannot create uglier or meaner. Not to mention there is espionage, adultery, sex crimes, kings knocked off thrones, passion, love  and on it goes. All the elements for good fantasy fiction in one book.

If you haven’t guess yet I am talking about the Bible and it is full of stories that are just as magical and mystical as any of the popular stories on the shelves of the book store today. God is an awesome fantasy writer but His fantasy isn’t fiction. Cool, huh?

 I think if more people look at the Bible in this way, more would read it. I would hope then that they would see the other elements of the Bible such as God’s love for humanity, His grace, peace, and unfathomable greatness. People can read the Bible for instruction, but (stay with me here) people can also read the Bible to escape their world and enter another. The Bible offers a spiritual journey into God’s world. It can be the same as reading a fantasy story to avoid whatever hurt, boredom, dullness, or stress that  is in your life.  The Bible is full fo fantastical stories, this is true, but it is so much more than a good story. It is full of truth. By losing yourself in the Bible just as one would in a good piece of fiction, you can find all the elements that pull a person into reading one of the best-selling novels. What’s more, you can find God in this wonderful book  packed full of exciting stories.

So get a good easy to follow translation, engage your imagination, open your heart and you will not be disappointed.

Pitch a Tent in God’s Livingroom

 

My husband is an avid deer hunter, and I am just not. My idea of fun is not hanging fourteen feet above the ground standing on a 3×3 foot piece of metal in the hope that an animal smarter than I am will walk by and I can shoot it. That is his thing not mine, I do, however enjoy camping and the being in God’s great outdoors part of the experience. I say it is pitching my tent in God’s living room. Being out in nature is the closest we can get to heaven on earth.

It is Fall and that means it is time for annual October camp out at Bear Lake in Munson FL. We camp for virtually the entire month, well Punkin does I have to work so I camp on weekends. Let me describe this wonderland of camping bliss to you.

If you can picture your typical redneck town then you can picture Munson. There are two stores, one fire department, four churches and about 5000 mud covered trucks. Every one of those trucks has a deer emblem on the back window, a dog box with hounds and a whip antenna for the CB. All the men and some women wear camouflage clothing year round. No one calls any of their friends by their given names, but instead uses nicknames such as Punkin, Peg Leg, Mullet, Radar, and Ghost man. Nick names that double as CB handles.

In contrast, right in the heart of Munson is a state park full of RVs and campers. These portable hotel rooms are not my idea of camping, yet the hold an allure over me. With names like Coachman, Outlander, Outback, Interlude, Huntsman, Fleetwood, Dutchman, Monaco and my favorite the Prowler. They are fully equipped more luxurious than any modern hotel room. All these campers lined up between the pines like a wheeled city. I look at them in awe as I drive through the campground to our usual spot, our little piece of dirt by the lakeside. I wonder what the people in the campers are doing, watching a football game on TV, baking a birthday cake in the pristine oven in the stat of the art kitchen, sitting on a private toilet, or microwaving pop corn. My envy disappears when I think about the fact that they should have just gone on to a resort with a five star hotel. Why come out to nature and stay in the RV? The point of camping is to be outside.

I round the corner and in the midst of all this lavishness I see my idea of camping heaven. Punkin and his friends, Tommy Two Tone and Peg Leg, have set up a virtual tent city. Four tents on a half circle surround an outdoor kitchen that even the Food Network stars would love to cook in. On the stove is something that smells heavenly simmering in a pot, on the grill is a group gorgeous T-bones sizzling, and the coffee is perking its rhythm. It smells and looks grand. Just behind the tent is the lake shimmering in the sun. High above a white long leg bird flies and swoops up a fish. I climb out of my own mud free truck with a pink deer on the back window and take a deep breath. The air is crisp and clean. It is as if my body craves this stuff. I can feel the difference instantly. My mind clears of the fog that has plagued me all week. My spirit and my body soak up the sun and fresh air. It is like an instant refresher and I feel rejuvenated. Muscles relax, conscience is sharp, nothing aches or hurts, and my whole being sighs.

Tent camping a bit different from camping in a RV, it can be lavish in a way. Tent camping is not as  lustrous  in the same way as an RV, but just as comfortable. We still have electricity; I have my laptop at the ready if I want to write. Electric lighting is necessary after the sunsets behind the row of trees. The difference is that we are out in the sun and in the night air. We are out in God’s nature not just peering at it through the window of a hotel on wheels. Maybe we do have to use the public bathhouse, which at Bear Lake is very clean, but even that is fun. You meet people as you walk to the bathroom. Old friends from last October say hello and ask about how things are since the last time they saw you. Sometimes you run in to people from your daily life, from work or church. (Ok, maybe it is better to stop and talk on your way back from the potty.) We do not have the man made luxurious surroundings in a tent, but what we have is better. It is God’s beautiful living spaces green grass carpet, bright blue sky ceiling, the crystal lake sparkling in the sunshine for viewing pleasure and perfect ventilation.

The absolute best part is at dusk when the deer come to the camp. The campground host who lives in his own RV has a nightly ritual of feeding the deer. He stands behind his trailer and shakes a can of dried corn. The deer cautiously come up to eat. They are very skittish so you have to be incredibly quiet. If you stand still and watch, you can see them about ten feet or less away. Does and the yearlings look up at you straight in the eye as if they are trying to decide if you are friend or foe. Stand still as a statue, keeping completely silent and you will be considered a friend. They eat and meander for a few minutes, and in a sudden motion they prance back in to the trees disappearing like a wisp of a spirit. It is almost like a dream. Your mind asks, were they there in the first place?

Camping is great and I absolutely love it. Give me a tent, airbed, gas stove, electrical outlet, and public bathhouse and I can stay for days, even in the rain, wind and cold, which this past weekend had all those things. The weather did not cooperate well with us. I will save that story for next time.

The next time you feel the stress of your life bogging you down consider a tent camping weekend. It is the best way to experience nature, decompress, relax, and meet God, in his own living room.

Church Search Has Ended

My last post ended with this sentence “So my search continues, but for now, I have found a place to worship God at Holy Cross Episcopal Church.”

 

Since then I have researched the Episcopal faith, and I have learned a great deal. Mostly what I have learned  from my reading and research is that what I thought I knew about the church was way off. I have signed up for a class to learn more from people who know more than I can find in books. The missing piece from my investigation, the human side. I hope to learn from those who love the Episcopal faith. I am falling in love with  the Episcopal faith and as a result I am falling in love with Jesus all over again.

 

I have chosen Holy Cross Episcopal for my church home and I have decided to become an Episcopalian. I know some of my family and friends will not understand why I have decided to become an Episcopalian. What I can tell them is that my relationship with God is between God and me, just as their salvation is between God and them. I have to answer for my own actions.

 

I was asked, “Why to you want to go to a church that is so structured and stuffy?” I laughed. One thing Holy Cross is not is stuffy. The people are friendly and as I told you in a previous post, not judgmental. I knew what this person was trying to ask. Why go to a church that is full of rules? They think of the Episcopal church as a different version of the Catholic church. Though in the services it resembles the Catholic church in the type of things that are done, the feel of the service, the people, and spirit of the church are so not the same. If you had told  me even a few years ago that I would be an Episcopalian, I would have said “Yeah Right, not me I am a hard core Southern Baptist.”  I was, but I was also, left empty and hurt by my Southern Baptist church. I left and many others left with me for the same reason. I felt that the church I was going to was all about the people in it, not about God or Jesus. It was a self centered church not a Christ centered church.

 

This sparked my church search. I finally got it, I found through listening to the Holy Spirit, what exactly the Church is. The church is not the building, domination, or the religion. The church is the people. US! ME and YOU! We Christians are the Church… God’s church. We are to represent His Son, Jesus, in this world. No matter what church building you decide to enter, you are part of God’s church. ( I will save the true Church disscussion for another day.)

 

So if you are looking for a church home too, come join me and my new  church family at Holy Cross. I can promise you that you won’t feel judged or stuffy at all, only love and fellowship.